The Imaging X-ray Spectrometer, one of the 11 payloads onboard Chandrayaan-1
spacecraft, jointly developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
and UKs Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, has successfully detected the first
X-ray signature from the Moon. This is the first step in its mission to reveal
the origin and evolution of the Moon by mapping its surface composition. It may
be recalled that Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft was launched from Satish Dhawan Space
Centre, Sriharikota on October 22, 2008 and entered the lunar orbit on November
In orbit around the Moon, Chandrayaan-1 Imaging X
ray Spectrometer (C1XS) detected the X-ray signal from a region near the Apollo
landing sites on December
12, 2008 at 02:36 UT. The solar flare that caused the X-ray fluorescence was
exceedingly weak, approximately 20 times smaller than the minimum C1XS was
designed to detect. The X-ray camera collected 3 minutes of data from the Moon
just as the flare started and the camera finished its observation. C1XS depends
on radiation from the Sun to activate the detection of X rays. Though, the
minimum in solar activity was expected to end in early 2008, however solar
activity is yet to reach the anticipated increase. With the highly sensitive
C1XS instrument, it has been possible to detect the X rays.
The camera - C1XS (pronounced kicks) was designed and built at Space
Science and Technology Department at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in
collaboration with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is an X-Ray
Spectrometer that uses X-rays to map the surface composition of the Moon and
will help scientists to understand its origin and evolution, as well as
quantifying the mineral resources that exist there.
Chandrayaan-1 is the first lunar mission of ISRO and also the first mission
with international partners. It is designed to orbit the Moon at an altitude of
100 km and carries 11 scientific instruments including radar and particle
detectors as well as instruments that will make observations in the visible,
near infrared and soft and hard X-rays.
Dr G Madhavan Nair, Chairman, ISRO said that the joint development and
operationalisation of C1XS in Chandrayaan-1 between ISRO and RAL, UK is a major
achievement. First signatures obtained from C1XS are highly encouraging.